So back to the studio of Yamazaki sensei and a brief workshop on natural dyeing on Gunma silk. The two dyes that were prepared for us were gall nut and cedar. Both were collected from the immediate area at the height of their season or at the best point of collection for optimal dyeing results. The gall nut results when insects bore into the woody part of the tree (these were oak galls I believe). The tree responds in defense by extruding a tannin rich nut around the insect eggs. These galls(nuts) are then collected for use in making a dye liquor after removing insects from inside. Yamazaki sensei stores these galls in the freezer for later use. The gall liquor was mordanted with iron to produce a grey/purple color. The cedar was collected across the road from the studio and steeped in water to extract the color. It was then left overnight to oxidize, changing from a yellow to a brownish liquor. When treated with an aluminum mordant the cedar produced a soft orange color on silk.
A few photos-
The gall nuts are opened and the grey-ish powder inside (insect eggs) is removed.
It takes many dips into the dye to build the color-rinsing and mordanting each time.
they were all set up for us and a group of women we had previously worked with came to assist.
the resulting colors
After looking over his work and the opportunity to make a purchase, we were served tea and chestnut sweets followed by a short trip to a local restaurant with a spectacular sweeping rooftop view of the area. The women who had assisted us came and we were able to talk and see some of their work over a lovely lunch. Omiyage were exchanged and we said our goodbyes.
We are still on the Ginza but today I will take a group to Asakusa and the Amuse Museum to see their collection of boro, sashiko, and ukiyoe.